HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Inside a fifth-grade classroom at Rowland Academy, teacher Stephanie Shelpman has a sign that reads, “Home of the free, because of the brave.”
Shelpman’s boyfriend of nearly five years has spent the past 10 months on deployment in Poland for the U.S. Army.
“I’m here to surprise Steph, my longtime girlfriend,” said Lt. Alexander Knell, United States Army National Guard. “She’s a teacher here and has been anxiously awaiting me coming home and has no idea that I’m here.”
Knell walked into the classroom to surprise Stephanie during a math lesson.
“I’m shocked and surprised for sure and just happy that he’s finally home. It’s been almost a year,” Shelpman said.
Not only was this a surprise for Stephanie, but it was also a welcome one for students. The class was writing letters and sending packages while he was overseas.
“I’m excited to be back. It’s wild,” Knell said.
Students from other classrooms even gathered outside the classroom to ask Knell questions and thank him for his service.
“I definitely love America. I love everything it represents, so being able to give back and help was something that I always wanted to do,” Knell said.